Make the Common Cold Uncommon This Season
’Tis the season for runny noses and sniffles. As the weather begins to turn, it’s nice to know that there are ways to prevent catching a cold. And if you do begin to feel ill, there are many solutions that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers to get well again.
Wind Carries Pathogens
In TCM, Wind is a cause of disease. Think about it, when it’s windy things get stirred up. Leaves, dust, pollen, and more. Wind is an external pathogenic factor that brings with it, other disease-causing agents. Namely, Cold and Heat, Dryness and Dampness. Cold is the primary factor that comes with Wind, Heat is a close second.
So, what does this mean? Well, any season of the year can be a time for Wind Cold or Wind Heat to invade. However, Autumn is the season that corresponds to the energy of the Lungs. The Lungs are Metal organs. Metal is cold and crisp, kind of like Autumn. Dryness is the external pathogenic factor that affects the Lungs the most. During the months of Fall, the Lungs are especially exposed to Dryness. And it is said that the “Lungs loathe Dryness.“ Therefore, the Lungs prefer to be moist.
Here’s an example. When the Lungs become dry, they overproduce the protective layer of mucus that coats the inner lining. The lungs have a direct connection to the throat and thereby the nose. Even in the ancient Daoist correlations, they said the “Lungs open to the Nose.” Fluid bodily substances from the Lungs can rise to those areas leading to a runny nose, throat congestion, coughing, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms associated with colds.
How Does Wind Invade During Autumn
The Lungs govern the skin, and that means a relationship to the pores of the skin. When the doors are open, visitors may enter, even undesired guests. When the pores of the skin are dilated, all sorts of pathogenic factors may come in for a visit. Remember Wind? Well, this seasonal agent pours in through the pores and brings with it Cold, Heat, Dryness, or Dampness. In TCM parlance, we call this a Wind Invasion. Literally, your body’s defenses have been infiltrated.
How Acupuncture Protects and Prevents Colds
Knowing that the Lung’s energy is fallible during Autumn, acupuncture can fully support its functioning. TCM has a plethora of modalities that integrate nicely together. An experienced and licensed acupuncturist can perform all of the treatment options you need to keep you healthy and supported in season.
With the meridian system theory in mind, acupuncture can boost the Lung’s protective energies by creating a balance from deep in the body. When the body is optimally healthy and in homeostasis, a person cannot get sick. If the body is not in harmony, acupuncture is designed to restore that balance.
If Wind enters the body, it can be expelled with acupuncture. The same way that Wind passed through the pores to gain access to the body, the pathogen can be purged through the pores. Simultaneously, the body’s defenses (immunity) must be stimulated to keep it strong enough to remove the pathogen.
Herbal Remedies for Common Colds
Yu Ping Feng San, the famous formula Jade Windscreen Powder, for Immune Deficiency (Wei Qi) leading to sweating. Symptoms include aversion to wind or drafts, spontaneous sweating, recurrent colds, and allergies. It is important to take this formula as a preventive measure, and to avoid taking this formula if one is sick.
Yin Qiao San, or Honeysuckle and Forsythia PowWind-HeatWind Heat invading the Exterior. Symptoms include fever with slight or no chills, sore throat, thirst, and headache. This formula is best taken at the first sign of seasonal sickness. Say one morning you wake up and you feel like you’re “catching a bug,” this herbal preparation is your ticket to health. When you take this within one or two days of the initial onset, it is highly effective and will have you back in action fast.
Ma Huang Tang, or Ephedra Decoction, is for Wind-Cold invading the Exterior for excess patients or those with a strong constitution. Symptoms include chills and fever without sweating, headache, generalized body aches, wheezing, difficulty breathing, runny nose with clear discharge. This formula is for when you are already sick. Take this within the first week of onset.
Gui Zhi Tang, or Cinnamon Decoction, is used for Wind-Cold invading the Exterior for deficient patients recovering from illness, postpartum, or already weakened. Symptoms include chills and fever with chills predominant, aversion to wind, no thirst, headache, stiff neck, nasal congestion, and sneezing. This is another formula for when you are already sick, round about within the first week of showing signs of illness.
One of the first indicators of a cold is an unusually stiff neck. In TCM, this is because the pathogen generally enters at the base of the neck. There is a specific portal of entry located there that pathogens can come through easiest. So, one of the best ways to keep from getting a cold is to protect your neck. Wear a scarf in the windy days of Fall. Pop your collar, or otherwise cover the nape of the neck to prevent Wind from entering the body. There’s an awesome formula in the TCM Herbal Pharmacopoeia that addresses stiff neck from Wind invasions, Ge Gen Tang. A secondary indicator of a cold is the onset of chills and fever. This is an alternating scenario that tells us that the pathogen is actually lodging deeper in the body.
NOTE: These formulas are highly specific and have been developed and refined over centuries of empirical clinical use. Only follow the prescription of a licensed and trained Chinese herbalist.
Looking for a local acupuncturist?
The practitioners at Lakewood Ranch Acupuncture and Wellness are highly skilled at acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. In the heart of Lakewood Ranch, Florida located near Sarasota and Bradenton, there lies a sanctuary of healing with a full herbal apothecary at your disposal. Feeling sick or simply desire to prevent any seasonal illness? Give our office a call today to schedule your next treatment session.